Atlanta Hawks fans were torn this offseason when the team decided to part ways with Jeff Teague for a first-round draft pick. The move handed the keys to the offense over to third year point guard Dennis Schroder. While he flashed enormous potential, he was still considered very raw. Even though Schroder may not have been the better player at the time of the Teague trade, there was no denying who had the higher ceiling. If you have followed me for a while through the site or on Twitter (@SportstalkATL) , you would know I have always been very fond of Schroder’s talent. His speed and quickness are very unique to this league and he is still only 23-years old. The difference in his shot since he came into the league and now is night and day.
But even with all of this talent and ability, the transition from the backup point guard to the starter was not as smooth as the German point guard would have liked. After beginning the season with twelve straight double digit performances, as the Hawks got off to a hot start, Schroder began to struggle mightily. He saw not only his scoring numbers dip, but his turnovers rise in the next five games. The Hawks had lost six straight, and many people began to wonder whether Schroder was going to be a successful starting point guard.
That all changed on November 28th, when the Hawks faced off against the Warriors in Golden State. Nobody gave the Hawks much of a chance to win, especially after losing five of their last six, but with under four minutes to play Atlanta found themselves ahead. Unfortunately, in typical Hawks fashion, they were unable to hang on. However, we might look back on that game as the beginning of the rise of Dennis Schroder. His 24 point, 6 assist performance led the way for the Hawks and he has continued step up as a true playmaker ever since.
In the twelve contests since, Schroder has averaged a magnificent 22 points and 7.5 assists per game, and doing so while shooting well over 50% from the field and over 40% from the three-point line. Those are all-star numbers for a player who is barely 23-years old. The German sensation is starting to turn in spectacular performances on a nightly basis and is even beginning to cut down on his turnovers. In the month of December, Schroder is averaging just 2.9 turnovers a game, which is promising for a point guard in his first year as a starter.
Stepping up from a backup to the starter is not usually an easy transition. It can take some time to get used to the responsibility, and he is playing on a team that is asking a lot from him. This whole season will likely be full of a lot of highs and lows for Schroder, but the Hawks are banking a large part of their future on Schroder panning out to be an all-star caliber player. It is still to early to call Schroder a slam-dunk success, but the last thirteen games could be a sign of him turning the corner and becoming a star in this league.